As Families Through Surrogacy consumer-led seminar series returns to the UK this October, co-founder Sam Everingham discusses the current options for singles and couples
Every client requiring surrogacy has a history particular to them and personal circumstances that may limit their choices. Some couples will have precious embryos of their own, but no surrogate. They need advice on where to engage, the legalities and how to ship their embryos. Others will require donor eggs as well as a surrogate. For some, it’s a medical condition which means carrying a child is too high risk medically; some were born without a womb; for others its repeated failed embryo transfers or recurrent miscarriages.
To complicate matters, eligibility varies by country and there have been large changes in cross-border surrogacy availability. Between 2015 and 2016, a booming demand was kneecapped when access was shut in no fewer than five jurisdictions, including India, Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia. The changes have put pressure on large user nations such as the UK, Ireland and Australia to review their surrogacy laws.
However, change is slow to come and intended parents refuse to wait. Given the uncertainty of locating a surrogate locally (paid advertising and matching agencies are prohibited in many countries, including the UK) there has been strong growth in use of legally sanctioned cross-border surrogacy in the US, Canada, Ukraine and to a lesser extent Greece.
This high demand means wait times for well-screened surrogates in the US and Canada has blown out to an average of six months or more
But the security of legal contacts is appealing to many and UK citizens can return home with their longed-for infant within three weeks post birth, thanks to these destinations granting US and Canadian passports immediately.
So, yes the USA’s long experience of professionally managed surrogacy and detailed screening makes it the ideal choice for those who can afford it and cannot access a surrogate at home. Lower cost surrogacy is also rising in Ukraine and Greece, given their accessibility and higher availability of surrogates. Eligibility requirements are strict in regard to age, medical need, marital status and documentation, and each country has unique processes to follow, but with good quality egg donors and IVF, consumers are taking the plunge. For UK citizens engaging in Ukraine and Greece, the main downside is the three months required post-birth before UK passport documents can be granted to allow travel home.
Whatever your circumstances and budget, surrogacy is a process with a myriad moving parts
From eligibility to egg quality – from surrogate agencies to surrogate compensation. Too many intended parents embark without the necessary understanding of risks and how to overcome them. Families Through Surrogacy was established as a non-profit to fill this gap, providing both customised advice and seminars.
At upcoming seminars in Dublin, on October 23, Edinburgh on October 25 and London, on October 27, 12 UK, Irish and Israeli parents will share their surrogacy journeys via the US, Canada, Ukraine or UK. The seminars will include advice and short talks from surrogates, surrogacy professionals and legal experts on building relationships, who can engage where, how to navigate your journey and cost implications.
For details of the events and tickets, click here